We are just over a week until the NHL draft when hopefully things will happen so bloggers have new material to work with again. Until that point here are a few thoughts from around the NHL.
Gordie Howe... man 2016 has not been a kind year. When Muhammad Ali passed I thought it couldn't get any worse. I was very wrong. While I am far too young to share any personal stories about watch Gordie Howe play, I have watched Taylor Hall, Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby, and many more hockey players. I bring up these names because when every modern hockey player was a kid they had heroes; players they wanted to someday be like; and those players looked up to Gordie Howe.
Similarly to Ali, I think it's safe to say there won't be another player like Howe. The modern NHL is a different game, and not always for the better. Having a personality seems to be something that's viewed in a negative light. There has already been talk about Patrick Laine and worry if his cocky attitude will mesh in Winnipeg. The Jets have had their share of locker room issues in Evander Kane. I'm not saying that Kane and Laine are remotely the same kind of guy. The fact that I'm even talking about Laine's personality being anything but a breath of fresh air is ridiculous and shows the state the NHL is in in that regard.
News has leaked that the NHL has officially come to an agreement with a Las Vegas expansion team... with not a single person being shocked by this news. I still think the plan is to officially unveil this at the Awards Show but maybe with the leak we will see an early announcement. Rumour has it the name will be the Black Knights... really? We already have the Kings; media is going to have a field day with that one. "Black Knights Dethrone Kings," "Checkmate." For the Edmonton fans, I am envisioning Gene Principe bringing a chess set to the first Oilers - Black Knights game.
The Ducks going back to Carlyle is... interesting? Do I think he is an upgrade on Boudreau? I most certainly do not. Do I think this is going to end poorly for the Ducks? I do. Should I stop writing in questions? Absolutely.
Good on the Penguins for winning the Stanley Cup. Now we can talk for the rest of the summer on how to build like a team like the Penguins. GM's want to emulate success. When the Kings were winning their Cups GM's were running around acquiring bigger physical players and guys who could wear the opposition down. With Chicago it was depth in the forward core, particularly a scoring third line. More and more it seems the "checking third line." is a thing of the past. We are seeing more teams spread their forward talent out and adding cheaper contract players to compliment them. This is the one thing Edmonton is well on their way to having.
Another point you can bet Oilers management is looking at is what the Penguins were able to do with their backend. Letang was a beast, playing upwards of 29 minutes a game. From there the rest of the backend was quite unremarkable. I'm not saying that to take anything away from the rest of their D, I just want to stress how key Letang was. From the Oilers perspective it goes to show what having a bonafide #1 can do for your roster. There is a huge difference between playing a guy for 27 minutes a night and having a player who can actually handle playing 27 minutes a night.
The NHL Draft will soon be upon us. The Oilers have 5 picks in the top 100. What are reasonable expectations for that weekend? Is it a win if the Oilers draft Tkachuk and still walk away with a top 4 right shot defenseman? Do they have to acquire a true #1 at the draft? Will we see a Faulk acquired, or another Reinhart? The next couple weeks should be very interesting for the Oilers. Come July 2nd we could be looking at a very different team.
If you enjoyed these ramblings and want more, check out our podcast Downtown Hockey. This week we chat Gordie Howe, dissect some of the Oiler trade rumours that have been circling and how great our slo-pitch team is. https://soundcloud.com/do...ckey/downtown-hockey-ep-9
Thanks for reading!